TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without starting cornerback Jamel Dean when they travel to face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, while their other starting cornerback, Carlton Davis, is questionable with a toe injury.
Dean suffered a shoulder and neck injury Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles and did not practice all week.
Davis has been nursing a toe injury that kept him out of the past two games, but he returned to practice this week, practicing at full capacity Thursday but limited Friday. Coach Todd Bowles said Friday that Davis would be a game-time decision.
"He's moving better. It's the first time I've seen him move in a while," Bowles said.
Starting defensive tackle Vita Vea, who suffered a pectoral injury against the Eagles, missed practice Wednesday and Thursday but returned in a limited capacity Friday. He too is listed as questionable, while his counterpart, 2023 first-round draft pick Calijah Kancey, remains sidelined with a calf injury and will be out Sunday.
Second-year cornerback Zyon McCollum started the past two games in Davis' absence and was praised Friday by Bowles.
"McCollum has been fine. He's playing like a starter," Bowles said. "You don't even notice him out there from a defensive coaching standpoint, which is a good thing. [Dee] Delaney stepped in and made a big play. We can clean up some other things that he can get better at."
Delaney and Derrek Pitts split reps in Dean's place Monday night, with Delaney recording an interception off Hurts in the third quarter. Pitts suffered a hamstring injury in that game and is out Sunday. Bowles said practice squad cornerback Keenan Isaac would be under strong consideration for elevation this week.
With Tom Brady retired, this marks the first time in NFC South history that all four teams have begun the season with new starting quarterbacks. The division is considered wide open, with three teams -- the Buccaneers, Saints and Atlanta Falcons -- sitting at 2-1 and the Carolina Panthers at 0-3. Tampa Bay has won the division the past two seasons, with the Saints winning it for four consecutive seasons prior to that, although the Bucs defeated them during the 2020 divisional playoffs en route to their Super Bowl LV win.
A depleted Buccaneers secondary will have its hands full Sunday with Chris Olave, whose 302 receiving yards rank sixth in the NFL through three weeks, emerging second-year receiver Rashid Shaheed and 2019 Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas, who last saw Tampa Bay in Week 2 of 2022 but suffered a toe injury that ended his season. Running back Alvin Kamara also returns after a three-game suspension.